commentary: Without Heat, Thoughts Turn Cold
Evil as the Absence of Godliness
Martin G. Collins
Given 20-Jul-19; Sermon #1498c; 9 minutes
The absence of heat is the most adequate definition of cold. Spiritually, lawlessness is the absence of law-keeping (and, hence, of righteousness). Christ has warned us that, because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. The apostle Peter felt physical cold (lack of heat) as he denied his Savior. Likewise, if God's called-out ones lose their affection for their Savior and His Holy Law, they will descend into the same hate-filled predicament as the hopelessly divided society. Because of lawlessness—the absence of God in people's lives, many, after the manner of the Laodiceans, have allowed their affection for their priceless calling to grow lukewarm. Metaphorically, the energy of God's Holy Spirit is heat, while lawlessness is the absence of heat. Lest we allow our affections for God's way to cool, we need to somberly consider our ways in this climate of pervasive lawlessness.
Is there really such a thing as cold? Let me get technical for a moment. The average temperature of empty space between celestial bodies is calculated at -270.15o C, or -457.87o F. In Earth orbit, conditions can be as cold as -250o F. In the sunlight (in orbit), they can be as hot as 250o F. Amazingly, a spacesuit can temporarily protect an astronaut from those extreme, which is amazing to me that technology is capable of that. If you travel out far away from everything in the observable universe, you can never get lower than -270.45o C or -454.81o F. This is the temperature of the cosmic micro background radiation heat, which permeates the observable universe.
You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but technically we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can plunge down to 459 degrees below zero, which is NO heat, but we can't go any further after that.
As a quick aside, if you touch the window on winter day and you feel cold, we tend to think of the cold coming toward us, but it is actually the heat leaving your body that gives you that sensation.
Temperature is not only an external sensation. Thermometers are not needed to recognize the heat of fever or the cold clamminess of a corpse.
Today, we are witnessing widespread coldness of heart in the world. And, sadly, it is spreading like wildfire, as seen in politics today. The coldness of the accusations against public figures is cringe-worthy. Even more disconcerting is the influence this is having on people’s attitudes against Christian churches and the ministry. Very harsh judgments are being made against Christianity in similar fashion to that being made by the left against conservatives in politics. Both are in error; both have their problems, but it seems to be fairly fierce at times.
This coldness of heart ultimately results from hatred of God, which is manifested as hatred of His creation of human beings and Christian religion.
The New Testament often describes inner life in terms of bodily temperature, most frequently using inner cold to represent spiritual deadness.
Matthew 24:12 records Jesus’ warning that in the last days, ". . . because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” This suggests that not only will persecution and hardship lead believers to stop practicing their faith, but also that the love of God, which is “poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” will be sorely tested by the evil influence of the world.
If not resisted, it will increase to such an extent that it will crush the spiritual heat out of God’s own people, causing their love to grow cold. It happens slowly, as people in God’s church love Him less, which results in them loving each other less. When there is this lack of spiritual heat, the heart turns lukewarm.
John's gospel uses cold to stage Peter's denial of Christ. After insisting that he will never fall away and fighting to prevent Jesus' arrest, Peter follows the mob into the courtyard of the high priest's house. John 18:18 records that while Jesus stands trial, Peter stands in the cold darkness, "warming himself."
John 18:18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
When cold is viewed as the feeling of uncomfortable lack of warmth, we say a person is chilled. The cold night seems to permeate Peter’s spirit and strip his courage, as his fiery zeal turns to three chilling denials of his Lord. We certainly don’t want to “chill out” when it comes to devotion to God and our dedication to the family of God.
When cold is viewed as the lack of passion, emotion, enthusiasm, or ardor, we say a person has cold reason or cold logic. This is logic that fails to consider human factors such as culture, language, social dynamics, personality, and emotion. People who have cold reason or logic when it comes to God’s truth understand it intellectually, but have no warmth for it in their heart.
Temperature as a gauge for spiritual activity also underlies Jesus' rebuke of the Laodiceans. Revelation 3:15-16 records Jesus’ revelation of the cooling works of the Laodiceans:
Revelation 3:15-16 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Although they are hard workers and accumulate material things, they are spiritually complacent. If they were cold, there would be an absence of God in their lives and their true conversion may be appointed for another time. If they were hot, there would be zeal for God, and that enthusiasm can be guided in a right direction and be useful. Since they are lukewarm, they do not spiritually mature, showing little or no spiritual growth, producing no fruit, and are useless.
Continuing in Revelation 3:17-19 Jesus said the Laodiceans provide neither healing nor refreshment because they are spiritually "lukewarm," lacking any inner desire to work for Christ. This lukewarmness represents self-satisfaction.
Regarding heat, every body or object is susceptible when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-459o F) is the total absence of heat. Consequently, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold, only the absence of heat. We can measure heat in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, just the absence of it.
Spiritually, “evil” is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold. “Evil” is a word that was created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.
So, please consider what is important and what is not in your life:
Haggai 1:5-7 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes." Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!”